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Hunter's overtime goal leads Islanders to 6-5 win over Flyers

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Hunter's overtime goal leads Islanders to 6-5 win over Flyers

The Canadian Press
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Blake also added an assist while Trent Hunter's second goal of the game with 30.7 seconds left in overtime gave the Islanders a 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. New York traded for all-star Ryan Smyth after deciding to keep Blake, its leading scorer.

"I came to the rink this morning for the morning skate, and I didn't know if I'd be bringing my equipment home," Blake said. "I was pressing a little bit, but it's nice to hit the 30-goal mark."

Hunter took the puck in the slot off a pass from Mike Sillinger and beat Antero Niittymaki for his 19th goal as the Islanders moved into a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with Montreal. New York ended its best February (9-2-2) since going 12-1-1 in 1982.

"Mike made a great play to draw a defenceman to him, and he just slid it over to me," Hunter said.

Chris Simon also scored for New York. Rick DiPietro stopped 29 shots and the Islanders improved to 5-1-0 on their seven game home stand.

"It seemed like there was a lot of weird stuff going on," DiPietro said. "Pucks were bouncing off sticks, off glass, things that normally don't happen did tonight."

The Flyers came back from a pair of three-goal deficits on two goals by R.J. Umberger and goals by Sami Kapanen, Dimitry Afanasenkov and Simon Gagne. Niittymaki stopped 33 shots.

"They're a good team, and they play hard," Sillinger said. "But let's face it - a few of their goals were the result of lucky bounces."

Earlier in the day, New York sent first-round picks Robert Nilsson (2003) and Ryan O'Marra (2005), along with a first-round choice in this year's draft to Edmonton for Smyth, who has 31 goals and 53 points in 53 games.

The Islanders took a 1-0 lead when Chris Campoli's low slapshot was tipped by Blake past Niittymaki 2:10 into the game.

Blake scored his second of the game at 8:34 for a 2-0 lead.

The teams then traded goals 20 seconds apart.

Umberger put the Flyers on the board at 13:42 on a high slot wrist shot that beat DiPietro. Hunter answered when he benefitted from confused defensive coverage in the Flyers' zone. He grabbed a loose puck and threw it into an open net at 14:02 for his 18th goal.

The Islanders scored their three goals on just five shots.

Blake finished off his second hat trick of the season and fifth of his career with 14.7 seconds left in the period. He stole the puck away from Sami Kapanen right in front of Niittymaki and then faked a forehand before tucking the puck in on a backhand.

Kapanen redeemed himself when he beat DiPietro with a rebound at 2:48 of the second period.

The Islanders made it 5-2 at 6:20 when Blake assisted on Simons eighth goal of the season, third goal in four games, and 300th NHL point.

Afanasenkov moved the Flyers to 5-3 at 7:10 on a backhand in close.

Philadelphia tied the game with a pair of third period goals 55 seconds apart.

Umberger's second of the game came from a sharp angle shot that DiPietro misplayed into the net with his goalie pad at 8:12. Gagne took three swipes at the puck before finally putting it home at 9:07.

Niittymaki kept the game tied with the save of the game with 4:10 left, as he dove and got his stick shaft on Andy Hilbert's shot.

DiPietro said that trading for Smyth, Richard Zednik and Marc-Andre Bergeron over the last two weeks boosts New York's playoff chances.

"(Coach) Ted (Nolan) said it's like Christmas Eve around the trading deadline," DiPietro said, "and this year, we got three big presents."

Notes: Zednik made his Islanders debut after being acquired from Washington on Monday. He skated on a line with Miroslav Satan and Viktor Kozlov, and wore No. 20. Smyth is due to make his Long Island debut Thursday, when the Islanders close a seven-game home stand by hosting St. Louis . . . Philadelphia expects its big acquisition, goalie Martin Biron, to join the team for its game Thursday night in Boston.

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Hunter's overtime goal leads Islanders to 6-5 win over Flyers